Air travel

How To Go Through The Airport Security Faster

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Last Updated on January 30, 2023 by Rose Morah

Flying out of a busy passenger airport can be stressful, tiring, and time-consuming.

Most of the time, it’s hard to estimate how early you should be at the airport because of the long security and check-in lines, especially when you’re traveling during the holiday season or on the busiest days at the airport.

According to TSA, travelers taking domestic flights should arrive at the airport at least 2 hours early. Those taking international flights should arrive 3 hours early.

In this article, we are going to discuss how to go through the airport faster.

1. Have your boarding pass ready

If you are using a mobile boarding pass, make a point of taking its screenshot.

I’d also recommend that you print your boarding pass before you arrive at the airport and have it with you in hand. This is in case your phone is stolen, run out of battery, or gets misplaced.

See also:

MSP Airport Parking Rates & Best MSP Offsite Airport Parking.

LAX Airport Parking Rates & Best Parking at LAX.

How do you get your boarding pass online?

Visit the airline’s website, then go to the check-in information and access your boarding pass.

Or alternatively, go to the airline’s app and access it from there.

How do I get my boarding pass on my phone?

Check in at the airline’s website and choose the option of having the boarding pass emailed to you. Once it is emailed, you will be able to download the boarding pass.

Can I print a boarding pass at home?

Yes, you can print your boarding pass at home right after online check-in. You will get to see the print option on most airlines’ websites.

See also: Online air ticket scams and how to avoid them.

2. Know how long it will take to get to the airport

Find out about the traffic and the maximum duration you might take in traffic. 

It is also important to consider the weather condition. For instance, if there’s bad weather, you will likely spend more time on the road.

And if you will be using public transport, find out how long it will take to get to the airport.

3. Avoid crowded and busy airports

The following are some of the busiest airports in the US (by passenger traffic)


Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport Atlanta, Georgia

Los Angeles International AirportLos Angeles, California

O’Hare International AirportChicago, Illinois

Dallas/Fort Worth International AirportDallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Denver International AirportDenver, Colorado

John F. Kennedy International AirportQueens, New York, New York

San Francisco International AirportSan Mateo County, California

McCarran International AirportLas Vegas, Nevada

Seattle-Tacoma International AirportSeaTac, Washington

Charlotte Douglas International AirportCharlotte, North Carolina
Data from

Airports With the Longest Delays in the United States (US)

RankCityAirportPercent of Flights Arriving Late (APRX)Average Delay Across Flights (APRX)
1NewarkNewark Liberty International27%22 minutes
2New YorkLaGuardia25%19 minutes
3ChicagoChicago O’Hare International26%19 minutes
4BostonLogan International22%17 minutes
5DallasDallas/Fort Worth International23%16 minutes
6San FranciscoSan Francisco International22%16 minutes
7Fort LauderdaleFort Lauderdale-Hollywood International22%16 minutes
8DenverDenver International22%15 minutes
9MiamiMiami International22%15 minutes
10ChicagoChicago Midway22%13 minutes
Data from
Data from

See also: How to Plan A Trip For Someone (Steps Involved).

U.S. Airports with the Fewest Delays

RankCityAirportPercent of Flights Arriving LateAverage Delay Across Flights
1HonoluluDaniel K Inouye International11%7 minutes
2AnchorageTed Stevens Anchorage International11%7 minutes
3LihueLihue Airport10%8 minutes
4Long BeachLong Beach Airport13%8.4 minutes
5SacramentoSacramento International14%8.6 minutes
Data from

4. Become a TSA Pre✓ member

Being a member of either TSA Pre or Clear helps you skip lines and avoid long lines at the airport.

Image Credit: TSA PreCheck

TSA Pre✓ thus saves you time and helps you avoid thorough security screening. 

This means that you won’t have to remove your shoes, belts, light jackets, laptops, and liquids at the airport security checks. 

Members of this program get access to expedited security lines that are usually separate from the non-members.

All you have to do is find out if the TSA Pre✓® lanes are available at the airport.

And assuming they are not available, all you need is to show your TSA Pre✓® boarding pass to receive expedited screening in a standard lane.

Its membership does come with a five-year, $85 membership fee.

The good news is that you can find TSA Pre✓® in more than 200 airports and 73 airlines.

5. Get CLEAR Expedited Security

Image Credit:

Sometimes, TSA Pre✓ may not be of much help, especially in some of the busiest airports.

Enrolling in CLEAR expedited security gives you the option of bypassing the entire security line.

All you need to do is go to a CLEAR kiosk and get your identity verified either by an iris scan or a fingerprint, which will only take a few minutes. 

After this process is completed, a CLEAR representative will take you to PreCheck/ regular screening line and place you right next to the person at the front.

CLEAR is available in over 51 airports in the US.

The membership fee for CLEAR Plus is $179 per year.

Members can also add up to 3 family members for $50/each per year.

Kids under 18 do not need to pay for membership. They only need to tag along with the CLEAR member.

Can I bring a guest through clear?

Yes, but only if the guest is under the age of 18 or has been added to the list by the Clear members. A Clear member can add up to 3 family members for $50 per year.

6. Your flight time matters

For instance, avoid flights that depart at peak travel times.

Peak times include Friday afternoons. This is the time most business travelers are heading home and leisure travelers are heading on to their weekend trips.

The following are the worst months to travel on most US airlines

MonthAverage Delay (in minutes)
Data from

7. Check-in online

Today most airlines allow travelers to use their airline apps to check in online and then get their boarding pass available on their phones.

Checking in online saves you time because you’re able to skip the check-in process. This means that all you will have to do is drop off your luggage for checking at the counter. 

You may also end up completely avoiding the check-in line in airports that have separate lines for bag drop-off.

What is needed to check in online?

You will need to provide the passenger’s name, and booking confirmation number. Sometimes, depending on the airline, you can check in with a credit card number.

However, if you did not book your flight directly with the airline’s website but instead used Expedia sites, there is no need to use the booking confirmation number. Use the airline’s reservation code from the third-party booking site during the online check-in process.

Is it better to check in online or at the airport?

It is better to check in online because you can do it from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.

Additionally, online check-in is better since you are able to save time at the airport by skipping the check-in kiosks.

Why am I unable to check in online?

The following are some of the possible reasons:

  1. TSA has randomly selected you for secondary screening.
  2. Missing passport – this means they don’t have your passport on their file (only applies to international flights).
  3. Many people under the same booking reservations. This happens mostly when traveling as a large group.
  4. You requested the airline for some special assistance e.g wheelchair.
  5. Airline codeshare. You will not be able to check in online if your first flight is operated by a codeshare partner.

8. How you pack matters

First off, make sure you don’t pack anything that is not allowed. This minimizes time wasted at the security check-in.

Pack your liquids last – these include any liquids, creams, pastes, gels, and aerosols. 

Additionally, consider packing them in a clear plastic bag so that once you are at the security check-in, you’re able to easily pull them out without wasting much time.

Related: How to travel with perishable food for long hours.

9. Pick the right line

If you do not have the privilege of having a CLEAR or trusted traveler membership, you can try and get in a line that seems to be moving fast. 

These are lines that have more business travelers and few families and kids.  

10. Use travel apps to track waiting time

You can take advantage of the traveling apps for security waiting time updates.

Examples of these apps include the MyTSA, Terminal Buddy, and MiFlight apps.

With these apps, you will have a clear estimate of how long it will take you to complete all the airport check-in procedures.

This will help you plan the time you should be at the airport.

Hello there! My name is Rose. I’m passionate about electric cars and clean energy. My adventurous spirit and journalistic pursuits make each day fascinating and far greater. I consider traveling not just about the grandeur moments, but the little elements that transform the whole experience.